Recently I made a spinach and cheese filling for my Mini Italian Calzones…. and Warren couldn’t get enough of the spinach and cheese filled ones…. so I figured I’d make a Spinach and Cheese Baked Ziti… it was a definite success… a perfect meatless meal that really goes together quickly… while it was in the oven.. I made salads… and we had a terrific weeknight meal.
Make the ziti al dente… al dente meaning cooked but still a bit chewy…. the ziti will cook more when it’s baked…. follow package instructions for al dente.
After boiling and draining the ziti… I let the pot cool a bit and use that to mix the ziti with the sausage and tomato sauce… it’s the perfect size and one less bowl to clean.
If using commercial tomato sauce you will need a jar about 2 lbs 13 oz or if you are making your own… roughly the equivalent to that amount.
Drain the spinach well… place the cooked spinach in a strainer and press the water out of it….you don’t want it to make the cheese soupy.
This recipe easily feeds 6. Need less?.... it reheats wonderfully for leftovers…. or after the leftovers have cooled… lift it with two spatulas into an airtight container and freeze…. When you want it again… left it again and place in a baking dish to thaw in the fridge and then bake covered with foil at 350 degrees F until bubbly along the sides… you will have to peek underneath the foil to check it… it should take about 30 minutes.
When reheating the Baked Ziti… spray the foil with cooking oil spray and place the oiled side down so the cheese won’t stick to the foil…. I also use Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil… the stuff is worth it’s weight in gold… nothing sticks to it.
I hope you try it!
Recipe: Spinach and Cheese Baked Ziti
All you need:
1 package ziti, prepared according to package instructions (al dente)
15 ounce container part skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup frozen spinach, cooked and drained
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Tomato sauce – about 2 lbs. 13 ounce size jar (store bought or homemade)
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Cooking oil spay (olive oil is preferred)
All you need to do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. Set aside.
Prepare ziti according to package directions.
Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
Add the ricotta, spinach, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian Seasoning, Parmesan cheese, and ½ cup mozzarella cheese to the egg mixture…mix well.
Return the ziti to the original pot you boiled it in…. add enough tomato sauce to thoroughly coat the zit… make sure it is well coated…. it will take about ½ a jar.
Add half the ziti to the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Spread the spinach and cheese mixture over the ziti.
Sprinkle the spinach and cheese mixture with ½ cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
Spread the rest of the ziti over the cheese.
Drizzle tomato sauce over the top and reserve the rest of the sauce to serve at the table.
Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top of the ziti.
Lightly…very lightly spray cooking spray on the mozzarella cheese… this will aid in smoothly melting the cheese.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and cheese has melted.
Heat remaining tomato sauce and serve with the baked ziti.
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